LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The OIC-district engineer of the Department of Public Works and Highways–First Benguet District Engineering Office (DPWH-FBDEO), other unnamed officers of the agency and the contractor of a P24-million flood mitigation project along Bued River, Camp 3, Tuba town have been formally charged before the Office of the Ombudsman for alleged grave abuse of authority, graft and corruption, falsification of public documents leading to technical malversation of public funds in relation to the said project.
In a 4-page affidavit complaint, Engr. Medel Flores accused DPWH-FBDEO OIC-district engineer Isagani Cayme, concerned officers of the agency and the contractor, Eduardo A. de Leon, Jr., proprietor of EAJR de Leon Construction, of reportedly conniving with each other to protect the true and honest status of the questioned P24 million flood mitigation or river control project.
He claimed that sub-contractors, laborers, property owner and the store owner brought to his attention their unpaid labor and materials as well as store accounts relevant to the implementation of the said project.
As a technical consultant of the Upland Lowland Monitoring Movement, he reportedly acted on the matter and brought to the attention of the concerned government offices the sad plight of the affected individuals.
The complainant alleged that in the original program of work that was bid out, the length of the flood control project was supposed to be 456.00 lineal meters as evidenced by the design plan for the construction of the flood mitigation structure within Bued River basin, particularly at Camp 3, Tuba town.
However, Flores explained that the contractor, in alleged connivance with the DPWH-FBDEO officials, was only able to complete a portion of the project which was said to be around 250 lineal meters that is way below the approved full length of the project which is 456.00 lineal meters.
Worst, the complainant stipulated that because of the uncompleted flood control project that was reportedly tainted with massive corruption, a mini resort with 3 small pools in the vicinity collapsed because the contractor of the flood control project allegedly excavated the river base of the pools and eventually abandoned the same, causing these facilities to collapse resulting to significant losses to the property owner.
He prayed for the Ombudsman to immediately issue a preventive suspension order against the concerned DPWH-FBDEO officials for them not to intervene in the conduct of the investigation on the controversial implementation of the project.
Further, the Ombudsman was also requested to subpoena the certified true copy of the contract for the project; certified true copy of the approved program of work; certified true copy of the minutes of the bidding; certified true copy of the notice to proceed; certified true copy of the disbursement vouchers and certified true copy of the approved variation orders of there are any to protect the integrity of the said documents to avoid them from being tampered.
Supporting the complaint were affidavits of William W. Banoca, Marina S. Galisan and Salvador L. Marzan regarding their unsettled damages to their properties, labor and other services.
For his part, Banoca alleged that de Leon was only able to pay him some P625,000 of the agreed P1.5 million rent for the use of his property and aggregates available in the area aside from the P90,000 for the supply of diesel which was used in the said project.
He narrated that sometime in January 2022, he discovered that de Leon suddenly pulled out his equipment and machineries on his property without giving prior notice. He tried to talk to him and demanded payment for the remaining balance of his rent and use of their aggregates de Leon kept ignoring his calls and messages.
Banoca reported that to date, de Leon has not paid his obligation to him causing his family great amount of damages and loss considering that his aggregates were used for the construction of the uncompleted flood mitigating structure without proper compensation.
On the other hand, Marzan claimed that his services was engaged by de Leon to be the sub-contractor for a project that was awarded to him for the construction of the flood mitigating structure within the Bued river basin.
As per agreement, he will provide laborers to help in the construction of the retaining walls and gabion-type wall necessary for the structure.
Moreover, Marzan claimed that he completed the assigned task in December 2021 and was supposed to receive the amount of P429,000 as compensation.
He eventually demanded payment from de Leon but the latter told him to wait since he is still waiting for the release of the funds to which he subsequently acceded.
In January 2022, Marzan was informed that de Leon already left his project site at Camp 3, Tuba town and that he already got the payment for the said project.
He immediately went to de Leon’s house and demanded payment for his services but his efforts were in vain because the latter refused to talk to him and kept ignoring his calls and text messages.
Because of de Leon’s refusal to pay his obligation, Marzan disclosed that all the laborers hired to construct the retaining walls and gabion-type wall were not able to receive their compensation causing them great damage and loss.
For her part, Galisan stipulated that she is the owner of a store at Riverside, Camp 3, Tuba town and that because her store was near de Leon’s project site, his laborers started to purchase their daily needs from her.
She admitted that it came to a point that his laborers could no longer pay their purchases from her store because de Leon did not allegedly pay them their wages for the work they rendered in the project.
According to her, the laborers, who are not residents of the area, requested that they will pay their purchases as soon as de Leon will be able to pay them their salaries which she eventually acceded.
Galisan claimed that the unpaid laborers of de Leon incurred a total unpaid purchase in her store amounting to P73,784 which is also a big loss leading to the closure of her store.